Crime Wave?

Posted July 23, 2003 at 6:11pm

A rash of campaign embezzlement cases claimed another victim this week, with Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) announcing that a long-time assistant treasurer allegedly stole about $350,000 during the past year. [IMGCAP(1)]

Roger Blevins was arrested and charged Tuesday in federal court in Wilmington, Del. An FBI complaint alleged that Blevins began stealing from the campaign in October 2002 and continued to do so through last month. Blevins allegedly made nearly two-dozen unauthorized transfers from the campaign account.

Biden’s office said in a statement that the scheme was detected earlier this month and the FBI was contacted immediately. A spokeswoman said the campaign will be filing amended reports with the Federal Election Commission.

Last week, Sens. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) announced that their campaigns had each been fleeced of approximately $100,000. Earlier this year, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) reported his campaign treasurer allegedly stole more than $400,000.

And Lydia Percival Meuret, former executive director of Rep. Henry Bonilla’s (R-Texas) American Dream PAC, pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking as much as $160,000 from the account. Meuret was charged with one count of mail fraud, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Legal Fix? It appears that ex-Senate candidate James Treffinger (R) may be getting a partial break from the FEC.

A former Essex County (N.J.) executive, and unsuccessful Senate candidate in 2000 and 2002, Treffinger recently pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal activity and wants to use leftover campaign funds to pay of his legal bills.

Justice Department lawyers, however, sent an unusual plea of their own, asking that the FEC deny Treffinger use of his campaign funds for paying legal bills, particularly since much of their case against him related directly to his campaigns.

But the FEC’s draft opinion — which will be considered today — states that Treffinger may use campaign funds to pay for a “portion of the legal fees incurred in the defense of the indictment.”

“Since nine of the 20 counts in the indictment against Mr. Treffinger are payable using campaign funds, [he] may pay up to 45 percent (9/20) of the legal expenses incurred in his defense of this indictment using campaign funds,” the draft states.

Silent Remembrance. The Capitol Police will honor the late Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut with a moment of silence at 3:40 p.m. today. Both officers were killed in the line of duty July 24, 1998, by alleged gunman Russell Weston Jr. while on duty in the Capitol.

Police officers will pass out cards at building entrances today to notify Members, staff and visitors of the moment of silence. The cards read: “We hope that you will join us in this symbol of respect for our fallen comrades.”

— Damon Chappie, Amy Keller and Jennifer Yachnin